With a nod to the past, Brooks Reitz embraces the new cocktail culture.
Reitz, founder of the Jack Rudy Cocktail Co., started mixing and muddling at Louisville’s Proof on Main before his cocktail craft led him to the Lowcountry and the bar program at Charleston’s Fig, where the Slow Food mentality was trickling down to the bar.
“There weren’t any Southern artisan tonics out there, so I just started making my own,” he says. Brooks now sells his handcrafted tonic to the Holy City’s big-name bars, including Husk and Mike Lata’s new oyster bar, The Ordinary, as well as 20 others across the country, and as far away as Spain. $16; jackrudycocktailco.com
The Difference: “It’s a concentrate, not a carbonated product. When you add soda water and stir it up, you get the bubbles. You can make it sweeter or stronger, depending on your taste.”
The Ingredients: “It’s made of water, sugar, lemongrass, orange peel, citric acid, and quinine—the quintessential flavor of tonic—from the bark of a Peruvian cinchona tree.”
The Name: “I grew up hearing all about my great-grandfather. His real name was William Tinsley Rudy, but everyone called him Jack for ‘jackass’ because his ears were so big! He was funny and crazy—a real man of adventure.”
How To Use It: Jack Rudy French 75: Combine 1 cup ice cubes, 2½ Tbsp. gin, and 1 Tbsp. Jack Rudy Small Batch Tonic in a cocktail shaker. Cover with lid, and shake vigorously until thoroughly chilled (about 30 seconds). Strain into a Champagne flute, and top with chilled brut Champagne or sparkling wine. Garnish with a lemon rind twist. Makes 1 serving.